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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Treat Detractors with Dignity


“When they go low, we go high” - Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama, A Modern Day Mentor for All
Our detractors demean us, challenge us, and propel us to action. We have the choice to act with dignity and respect or to stoop to their level of behavior.

We will all have detractors, and while they can create havoc in our lives, they can also serve as our teachers.

What can we learn from our detractors?

First, we learn how awful it is to be demeaned. We gain empathy and develop greater compassion and care. 

Next, we are prompted to think deeply about who we are and when we too might play the role of detractor, demean-or, or hurtful agent. Our detractors help us to steer clear from these undignified roles.

Also, if we truly want to use our detractors as teachers, we will look for the truth in their challenge, put-downs, and oppressive acts. Where can we mine nuggets of truth to make us better, stronger, and more dignified? And, where is the untruth or obstruction in their words and actions too--when is their detraction an inhumane, negative obstacle to good work and practice. 

And, the more we learn from and about our detractors, the stronger we become as advocates for what is right and good.

This election is making us all think about who we are and what we value. One candidate's hateful speech is clearly exemplifying to us what indignity, hate, and injustice can do to individuals and an entire country. To me, that candidate is a detractor who represents a path we do not want to take as a people or a country, an inhuman, undignified path.

We can look around, however, and point to those who represent dignity and humanity in our midst--they are the true teachers we need to look up to, emulate, and learn from. They are the ones who with compassion and empathy, work to bring people together, elevate who we are and what we can do together to make a positive difference in our lives and the lives of our communities great and small. 

It's essential, however, as Michelle Obama states, ". . .to go high," when faced with indignity and disrespect. It's essential to treat our detractors with dignity and respectful truth or else we just become one of them.

These are difficult, but important, lessons to learn.